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Spring Gardening in Adult Day Services!

The participants in Cedar Sinai Park’s residents are getting in to Spring.

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No need to go outdoors on a rainy spring day in Oregon. Adult Day Services recently made their own flower arrangements with a little guidance from registered horticultural therapist Genevieve.

“We started our hour studying local blooming plants for seasonal orientation,” said Genevieve.

Residents passed around tulips, hosta, viburnum and dogwood and talked about their characteristics. This garden session focused mainly on tulips and their history, discussing the “tulip mania period” in Holland and other interesting facts about the tulip.

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Participants each got to build their our own individual tulip arrangements. They chose which stem and flower color they wanted to use in their arrangement and placed their choices in a vase with water. The participants were proud of their choices and admired their finished arrangement.

A lovely way to spend an hour in Spring at Adult Day Services.

Volunteer Gerel Blauer Beautifies Robison Gardens

Volunteer Gerel Blauer

Volunteer Gerel Blauer in the Miriam Suite Garden, Robison Jewish Health Center, 6/16/11

For Gerel Blauer, volunteering as a gardener at Cedar Sinai Park is personal. Both her mother and cousin lived at Robison Jewish Health Center and she’s a gardening evangelist.

Gerel’s first encounter with Cedar Sinai Park took place in 1986 when her mother stayed at Robison; the second when she’d visit her cousin here in 2000. Both times Gerel felt the building’s entrance area could be more welcoming.

“Unless this place looks inviting, nobody would want to stay here,” she said.

Convinced she could help, she asked Administrator Kimberly Fuson and Community Program Director Kathy Tipsord whether they’d be interested in  the Home — Robison Jewish Health Center used to be called Robison Jewish Home — being beautified. As is Cedar Sinai Park’s philosophy, they said yes, provided Gerel would take the lead.

Gerel answered the bell: she’s been taking care of the six Robison gardens for over 10 years now. She tends to plants, flowers, and shrubs, some of which she brought from her own garden.

A few years in, Gerel realized the job is too much for one person. Since 2005, she’s had occasional volunteers help with the work. She said additional volunteers are always needed and welcome, needing only energy, strength, and interest in exercise. Her volunteer recruitment strategy mirrors Cedar Sinai Park’s and is simple: “When a family member or a friend comes by and they notice something needs to be done, I accept no complaints, I accept volunteer help.”

On the day of the interview, new Rose Schnitzer Manor Queen Lois Poplack’s son was helping Gerel spread bark mulch in the Zidell Garden, underneath the 100-year old heritage tree. He said, “You just can’t say no Gerel. I’ll help whenever she asks me.”

Still, Gerel does most of the work. So much, in fact, that she cannot estimate the number of hours she puts in every week.

“When the spirit moves a volunteer,” Gerel said in general terms, but referring to herself, “and the volunteer has the time, the volunteer volunteers as much as she can give.”

The sense of satisfaction Gerel derives from her volunteer work is palpable to anyone who talks to her. She said, “There’s the satisfaction of providing a pleasant environment, making the Home a more beautiful place, and knowing I helped others.”

Just then, a daughter of a Robison residents walked by, glanced at the Zidell Garden, and said, “Looks beautiful!”

Resident Gardeners Plant the Seeds of Good Health

Horticulture Club, Rose Schnitzer Manor, 060111-11

Rose Schnitzer Manor Horticulture Club discussing tomatoes: (from left) Activity Coordinator Katie Watry, horticulturist Kathy Kuhn and residents Marta Pomeranz and Annette Gerard, 6/1/11

Hardy members of the Rose Schnitzer Manor Horticulture Club enjoyed a wet and chilly first day of June planting a vegetable garden with tomato starts and herbs. 

Registered horticulture therapist Kathy Kuhn, JD, HTR, who leads the Club, said, “Going outside, even if it isn’t sunny, improves the residents’ mood and circadian rhythm. The outdoor activity also helps members focus on something beyond themselves, which is important in increasing a sense of autonomy.”

The upcoming summer is Rose Schnitzer Manor Horticulture Club’s third. Kathy said, “I am honored to work with such a dedicated and distinguished group of residents, many of whom have many years of experience gardening and who share their wealth of knowledge with me and their peers. I greatly enjoy their intelligence, good humor, and resilience. Our collaboration in growing beautiful and tasty flowers and vegetables.”

In rainy and cold months, the Club meets indoors. Members decide what to plant or study the history, culture, and uses of various plants, such as apples, citrus fruits, lavender, or herbs.

When warmer weather rolls in, the Club moves outdoors to the Intergenerational Garden outside the Manor. The 17 raised planters are tall enough for residents not to have to bend down much; in the spirit of adaptive gardening, the garden is adjusted to the needs and capacities of our elders.

Activity Coordinator Katie Watry said, “The garden was built with our residents in mind and they love the easy access and ability to grow their own vegetables. Of course, none of this could have happened without Kathy’s knowledge and experience.”

During the spring planting, members weeded the planters, mixed potting soil in, and planted the starts and seeds. Kathy said, “Simply by shoveling dirt or digging holes, planting involves a fair amount of physical activity, which helps residents stay physically active. In addition to spending time outside and engaging in physical activity, all of the group members also get the benefit of socialization and stimulation of their minds and senses through our various studies.”

The Horticulture Club regulars include residents Martha Pomeranz, Lyn Lynch, Greta Block, and Annette Gerard. In bloom, avid artist Martha Pomeranz paints the flowers from the garden.

Annette is the Club’s newest member. “I just started,” she said. “It’s a great thing to do.”

Mitzvah Day at CSP

Hernandez Family (L-R): Martin, Romel, Claire, Lucy

On May 23rd, volunteers from Congregration Beth Israel braved the rain to cut and clear ivy on CSP’s Al Lewin Legacy Trail, clean up and add compost to the Miriam Suite garden, and tend to the flower beds around Robison.

The Hernandez Family was among a dedicated group of volunteers who returned for their third year to participate in Beth Israel’s Mitzvah Day at Cedar Sinai Park.

Claire Hernandez explained: “We feel fortunate that we are members of a temple that views community service as something that is important, and we like coming to Cedar Sinai because we can always see the fruits of our labor at the end of our work.”

We are deeply grateful to all the Beth Israel volunteers for their hard work.  Already, we’ve received several positive comments from residents, staff, and families on how beautiful the Robison parking area and other parts of campus look. It truly reflects their caring… and it also shows how their vibrant Pacific Northwest spirits stayed strong amidst the rain and mud!

Pictured: The Hernandez Family (L-R) Martin, Romel, Clair, Lucy